With so many tech tools on the market, real estate professionals often struggle when it comes to choosing exactly what to integrate into their business to build a competitive edge.
During RISMedia’s recent webinar—“Building a Competitive Advantage With Technology”—panelists Eric Johnson, manager of agent productivity and growth at RE/MAX Niagara & Escarpment; Vicki Westapher, licensed real estate broker at RE/MAX Properties, Inc.; and Austin Glass, managing partner/REALTOR® at Mint Real Estate, shared their tried-and-true strategies for leveraging technology in order to stand apart from the competition.
The webinar was sponsored by IXACT Contact and moderated by Cleve Gaddis, coach with Workman Success Systems and team leader with Gaddis Partners, RE/MAX Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
Although making sure agents have access to key tools such as a CRM is important, according to Shannon McGee, sales director at IXACT Contact, the real test is whether or not agents buy into the technology and use it consistently.
“Systematizing your business and putting those key tools in place will make your business better and easier to run,” explained McGee. “Find the one you will use, because any system is only as good as what you put into it.”
For Johnson, it’s all about keeping things simple.
“We not only want to make our lives more efficient, but we also want to make them more effective,” said Johnson, who emphasized the importance of not overcomplicating the process.
“It’s all about the system,” added Johnson. “It doesn’t have to be a complicated system, but it has to be a system to get things done that need to get done.”
Johnson encouraged attendees to get out of their heads and simply try something.
“If it doesn’t work, try something different. But never be afraid to try something,” said Johnson.
While Johnson utilizes a CRM to keep track of everything in one place, he’s also a huge proponent of digital whiteboards—especially when working with new agents.
“When working with brand-new agents, it’s about setting good habits and getting good systems in place,” explained Johnson, who takes great pride in helping people set goals and then work toward achieving them each and every day.
Launching just 15 months ago (at press time), Glass has seen the success of his sales team explode.
“We had a very difficult time getting everyone on the team to put their appointments in their calendar and track their conversations through the CRM,” explained Glass, all of which finally changed when a few agents jumped into adopting it. And their success has propelled the rest of the team to follow along.
For Glass, getting agents to do what they’re supposed to be doing is all about presenting them with the data necessary to help them focus on making improvements in their business.
“By diligently tracking everything they possibly can within their business, we’re able to bring awareness to each agent as to where they’re potentially lacking,” said Glass. “Without that data, it’s impossible to find the gaps in their business that need to be fixed.”
The discipline of sticking with the CRM also allows Glass and his team to have the freedom they desire.
“The CRM is your brain,” explained Glass. “If you were not at the company tomorrow, and someone was put in your place, would they be able to jump into your CRM and continue the conversation just as you did based on the notes and info in your CRM?”
Drilling down even further, Glass creates templates for nearly every repetitive real estate task.
“We don’t want to automate something that’s consumer-faced and risk becoming a robot—or we’ll lose that personal touch,” added Glass. “But we do try to automate anything that can be used as a base for the conversation.”
Running a totally virtual team for the past 15 years, Westapher has created a seamless process as far as the way in which she deals with her clients.
“The No. 1 challenge of operating a virtual team is communication,” said Westapher. "We have to be able to communicate in a way that all of us can see everything going on in real time.”
While her business is very systems oriented, everything she and her teammates do is systematized—from the templates they use to the fact that everyone on the team has been cross-trained on everyone else’s job.
Leaning on tools and technology that foster open lines of communication across the board, Westapher has seen the benefits of having a solid CRM in place from the get-go.
“I began using a CRM at the very beginning of my career, and at this point, every client and vendor we’ve worked with is in that CRM,” explained Westapher, who has been able to gather a lot of detailed information including birthdays, favorite restaurants and even their hobbies.
With nearly 85% of her business coming from repeat clients and referrals, Westapher depends on the information she’s collected over the years to always be available at her fingertips.
Looking to up your technology game? Rather than getting bogged down trying to emulate what your competitors are doing, focus on implementing smart strategies through experimentation so that you can iterate on solutions that work best for your business model.
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